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Editorial: Interim government rumors & dilemma

The scandalous news – what later proved to be fake rumors – circulated by some media outlets regarding the US-Taliban’s supposed agreement on the formation of an interim government in Afghanistan triggered apprehensions among Afghan masses and elites, who believe such action would undermine the democracy and take the country back to square one. The reports come as the ninth round – which is expected to result in an agreement laying the groundwork for intra-Afghan negotiations – of talks between the US and the Taliban negotiators is underway in Qatar. However, it wasn’t long before when the Taliban group’s mouthpiece called the news unfounded and was subsequently backed by the US point man for Afghanistan’s reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who said “governance decisions are for Afghans to make in intra-Afghan negotiations.”

As the country seems to be experiencing a turning point, the two sides being on the same page breaks the suspense for Afghans in regards to the subject matter of the US-Taliban agreement, revealing that at least an interim government is not part of the talks. On the other hand, everybody knows the Taliban’s arrogant unwillingness to compromise on the form of government. They have made it obvious they don’t believe in democracy and have asked the nation not to participate in the upcoming presidential election. They prefer an emirate-type, monarch-style form of government over democracy and could have possibly pushed for an interim government, which would help them reach their ultimate goal. But the question is what if an interim government actually is part of the talks and whether the US would support the succeeding type of government after pouring reportedly $1 trillion to develop Afghan democracy? 

The lesson the US President Donald Trump’s administration should learn from the Afghanistan’s past if it seeks to sustain the changes it has backed, and to avoid what happened a little over three years after the Soviets left Afghanistan, when the Afghan government collapsed and the country was plunged into civil war, is to perpetuate foreign assistance. The Afghan security forces are capable of safeguarding their security than their trainers and foreigners think. What is needed is continued support. The importance of foreign support is probably the most crucial lesson for America and the global community because it would provide the incumbent government a level playing field to negotiate. Recalling the history, Najibullah, former president of Afghanistan, fell months after Soviet assistance dried up. The US should know that peace would help Afghanistan start to grow its economy, and until that is done, the continued help is key for sustainable peace. But that would be counted upon only if the Americans and the international community favored the government that would emerge in Afghanistan. If they do not, and no one steps into the breach, Afghanistan can expect a resurgence of conflict. No matter what form of governance the parties into conflict agree upon – which is most certainly democracy with some power-sharing deal for Taliban – the foreign support is key.

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